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Deadly ‘sea wasp’ jellyfish found off coast of Panacea, heading to Smithsonian

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 10:48 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Several box jellyfish have been found off the coast of Panacea, shocking the crew at the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab who say it is a rare occurrence.

These jellyfish, nicknamed “sea wasps,” are now en route to their new homes to be displayed to millions.

Finding jellyfish in the Gulf may be normal for some, but finding box jellyfish isn’t something you see every day.

Jack Rudloe founded the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab in 1962. He says that was the last time he has seen so many box jellyfish in one night, before Wednesday.

His son, Cypress, was very wary when he realized what he caught.

“I put them in a bucket and, once they were in the water, I could tell they were box jellies and I was like, ‘Oh, okay, I need to take this a little bit serious,'" he said.

Rudloe says box jellyfish are one of the most dangerous species of jellyfish in the world; luckily for Cypress, the one they caught is not as potent.

“This particular box jelly is not the deadliest box jelly out there, but it can make you very sick and can be a pretty severe sting,” he said.

Once they had the jellyfish secured, Rudloe says he contacted both the Smithsonian and Joel Sartore, from National Geographic, but didn’t expect both to be so interested.

“I didn’t expect both of them to say yes, so we actually had to split up both the jellyfish and send so they’re both going to get some," he explained. "These are going to be very well used and very well studied.”

They packaged the jellyfish and sent them away in hopes of bringing attention to their struggling businesses. He says he’s optimistic for the future.

“So who knows what’s going on there. I don’t know what the future is but you know we’re optimistic," Rudloe says. "We’ve been here for 50 years and we hope we’re going to be here continued.”

The father-son duo says they hope to see their jellyfish on display at many major aquariums across the country very soon.

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